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The number of requests to Facebook for information on users from the Irish Government rose in the first six months of 2017, new figures show.
The social media platform, which has more than two billion users worldwide, issued its latest transparency report this week, highlighting requests from governments for information on its users across its various platforms, which also include WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger.
Requests for account data from authorities globally increased by over 21 per cent compared to the second half of 2016, from 64,279 to 78,890 with nearly three millions posts removed from Facebook, including a small number from Ireland.
The vast majority of requests relate to criminal cases and usually the government is requesting basic subscriber information, such as name and length of service. Requests may also ask for IP address logs or account content.
In Ireland there were 84 requests for information made in relation to 95 accounts with data produced for 75 per cent of these requests. This compares to 79 requests on 83 accounts for the previous six months. A year earlier there were 89 requests on 81 accounts put forward.
Facebook said it received 177 preservation requests on 294 accounts linked to official criminal investigations in Ireland during the first half of 2017. It restricted access to three items of content in response to a court order related to defamation..
“We continue to carefully scrutinise each request we receive for account data - whether from an authority in the US, Europe, or elsewhere - to make sure it is legally sufficient. If a request appears to be deficient or overly broad, we push back, and will fight in court, if necessary. We’ll also keep working with partners in industry and civil society to encourage governments around the world to reform surveillance in a way that protects their citizens’ safety and security while respecting their rights and freedoms,” said Chris Sonderby, deputy general counsel at Facebook.
The company has for the first time expanded its twice-yearly report to include reports from rights holders relating to intellectual property (IP) - covering copyright, trademark, and counterfeit.
The study shows that during the first half of 2017 Facebook received 224,464 copyright reports about content on its platform, as well as 41,854 trademark and 14,279 counterfeit reports.